My Mom Was Always There

My mom was there when I was called to the principal’s office. Not because I did something wrong but because I was doing so well in first grade that they moved me one level up in the middle of the school year.
My mom was there when I was bullied. She fought fiercely with the school principal to have those kids expelled. In the process a teacher lost his license, and eventually the kids learned to leave me alone.
My mom was there to enrol me to Taekwondo classes. Yes, believe it or not. I never went further than a yellow belt, but that one summer gave me enough confidence to stand up for myself for the rest of high school.
My mom was there with me during college enrollment. I was probably the only student in PUP’s history who needed his mom to get into college. And it didn’t stop on my first year. On my second year in college I was hospitalized and she juggled between looking after me at the hospital every night and enduring the historical long lines of PUP enrollment in the morning. My mom was also there to haggle my grades when I was about to fail a few subjects, and she was there when I needed to make my own cookbook in order to pass culinary theory.
My mom was there when I fell in love for the first time. And she was there when I went through every single heart break. She was there when I finally found the one, and she even helped me pick a ring for my proposal.
My mom was there to give me a handkerchief when I burst into tears at the church altar, watching my future wife come towards me. She was there when BJ was pregnant, when she gave birth, and when I was trying to figure out how to parent.
My mom was always there, checking up on me, worried about all those sleepless BPO nights. She never failed to remind me to not skip meals, get enough rest, quit my vices, and live a healthy life. Because she knew from experience that as a parent, I should take care of myself so I can take care of my family.
My mom was there when my wife and i decided to leave the corporate world and become entrepreneurs. She guided us through running a business and taught me basic accounting and management along the way. When the going got quite tough she even went in and helped at the store, confidently selling and cashiering in Tagalog, while most of our customers spoke Cebuano.
My mom was always there. Yes, she had imperfections just like any parent. But she never stopped becoming our mother at the best of her knowledge and ability. And I can only wish to become half the parent that she was.
In all those years that they were financially struggling to provide for us, my mom had taught me to never give up and never lose hope. To be resilient, and to never lose faith in God. And in her sometimes dysfunctional relationship with my dad, she taught me how to love and to never give up on people.
She may not be as articulate as how i grew up to be, but who I am now and how I write is because of my mom. Never losing hope and always believing in love and its many forms.
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For Pearl

May 8, 2007 – I was anxiously waiting. Restless. Fidgety. It was one of the longest nine hours I spent on my old desk job and the two hour commute going home was twice the agony. I can’t wait to go home, and when I finally did, I had to wait a. Few. More. Hours.
And then she came knocking on the door.
The humble one liter engine hummed lightly as she approached the gates, with crystal clear eyes beaming through the garage, and cute little tires making a soft rumbling sound in the pavement. And then I finally saw her in full glory, flaunting her shiny new ebony black paint.
I dubbed her Black Pearl.
Yes, based on the movie. I was a big fan of Captain Jack Sparrow and his misadventures, and in the next decade we would have our own stories and adventures to brag about.
I still clearly remember how I was still learning to drive and maneuver, and immediately putting myself on the spot, braving the streets of Makati. Her miniature size was amazing at cutting through traffic. And she sipped gas like a fine lady.
But she can be badass when she had to. Like when we ran 160 at SCTEX and lived to tell the tale. Some people still don’t believe it, but at that time she was brand new and I was irresponsible, and possibilities were endless.
We had impulsive quick drives to Tanay and Pililla, racing hopelessly with ‘patok’ jeepneys for a hot bowl of Lomi Batangas. We had drunk, early morning runs to Tagaytay, just for a photo in the Taal sunrise. We had sleepy moments in NLEX, conquering the old streets of Vigan and the windmills in Bangui, and the hundred islands later on with my greatest love. And to the south we went as far as the shores of Puerto Galera.
So many women have taken her passenger seats. Like all those times I drove my mom to her meetings, or my aunts for kidney checkups, and Nanay Puring to Ever Gotesco for her weekly bingo fix. Yeah, it took a while before I actually got to have Pearl drive me on a date. But when that happened a year later, we were picking up a girl who flew all the way from Cebu.
I never expected that I was going to move there soon. And I had to leave Pearl when she turned two. I spent a year without her, while getting to know Cebu, 17B, 12L and ngohiong. In 2010, three years young and still so full of energy, I had her shipped in, because I knew I was going to stay here for good.
She avoided Typhoon Ondoy by a hairline, and began circling the island, having more adventures and misadventures as Captain Jack preferred. She had a record-breaking eight passenger long drive to the beaches of Alcoy (yes, eight adult passengers), she survived the zigzags of Barili and the Transcentral Highway, she took us to Bantayan, Malapascua, Camotes, and to all the nooks and crannies of Cebu.
She’s a seasoned fighter in the traffic jams of IT Park and CBP, and later on Carbon and Colon. And when I left my office job, she became the official wheels of BPT. She serviced LPG tanks, tables, coolers, oil, sauces, noodles, and our hopes and dreams. In hindsight, BPT might not have made it without her.
She drove us to dates, wedding preparations, pre-natal checkups, hospital visits, school trips, and she was a witness to all the loudest fights and biggest make-up kisses that no movie will ever give justice to. Pearl has seen me laugh, cry, have my heart broken, and fall in love.
She has been a crucial part of the last eleven years of my life, and it’s hard to imagine one without her.
But I have to let go.
For many reasons that do and don’t make sense, I have to let you go.
Thank you for all the wonderful stories. I wish you continue making them for your next owner.
I hope you continue be a trusty companion to your next owner. Haul their families, their pets, their groceries. Be there for them in times of need. Do not let them down on emergencies like hospital visits or midnight cravings. Give them power naps on long working hours. Bring them to places that put smiles on their faces. Bring them happiness like how you have brought mine.
It has been an extraordinary journey.

Kindness Day

Sometimes we eat a little, sometimes a little too much.
Sometimes we like to cuddle, sometimes we hate being touched.
We feel great. We feel playful. We very well know happiness.
But sometimes we feel pain and get swallowed by sadness.
We want many things, and we want it right away.
Most of the time we’re impatient, and cannot wait one more day.
And there are things we want to say but never could.
Just like everyone else, we only want to be understood.

The question is, am I writing about my kids or me?
Because we are not so different, apparently.
Autism does not make them any less human.
And being ‘normal’ doesn’t make me a better man.

April 2 is Autism Awareness Day. Spread the kindness and love.

Para kay Jared

“Tulog na mahal ko;
Hayaan na muna natin ang mundong ito…”

Hayaan na muna ang mundong mapanghusga.
Iisantabi muna ang makamundong problema.
Ang araw na ito ay para lamang sa’yo.
Gusto kong makita ang iyong mundo.

“Tulog na mahal ko;
‘Wag kang lumuha, malambot ang iyong kama…”

Naaalala mo pa kaya ang mga hatinggabing;
Hindi ka mapakali, hindi mahimbing?
Ibinubulong ng pasmado kong tinig ang kantang ito.
Ang aking munting hele para sa’yo.

“Tulog na, mahal ko;
Nandito lang akong bahala sa iyo…”

Kahit ang naibibigay ko lamang ay minsan;
At madalas sa pagtulog hindi kita natatabihan.
Dahil tuwing gabi kailangan kumayod.
Titiisin para sa’yo ang puyat at pagod.

“Tulog na, mahal ko;
At baka bukas, ngingiti ka sa wakas…”

At sa paggising mo lamang maibibigay;
Ang inaantok na yakap at halik ng sabay.
Ipinapangako na naman ang maligayang bukas,
Ngunit ang totoo, sa’yo nanggagaling ang lakas.

“…At sabay natin harapin ang mundo.”

Throwback: “My Other Bride”

So this came out of my Facebook memories today. Written a few months before getting married 7 years ago on my second attempt at a blog.

BJ was never the only one.

There was always another one.

I still remember the first day we met. I saw a mixture of apprehension and curiosity in her eyes. She looked as if I was a wild animal in the zoo, wondering if it was safe to come close and if she can touch me.

I could not blame her. She had very few men in her life before, and letting a new one in may be a challenge. But I reached out and eventually we were closer.

She kisses me and gives me a hug when I go to her place. And sometimes she would try to run away as if she was asking me to come after her. She likes it when I hug her, but not too tight, as she wants to keep her freedom. She squeezes herself into me when we sleep so she can feel some human warmth. And, she wakes me up with an innocent smile on her face.

I don’t give as much back, since I spend most of my time with BJ. But one thing that I know for sure is I love her as much as I love her Mommy. And I can’t wait to marry both of them this May.

This is her by the way:

I Wasn’t Ready Yet

My job didn’t pay well. I had debts. I barely provided for myself, how can I provide for a family? We had a home but it has no curtains, no beds, no couch, and thirteen years of amortization left. And we had an old car that is more expensive to keep than to sell.
I wasn’t ready yet.
Right on that moment at the altar, you and I both knew we didn’t have money left to pay the balance of our photographer and coordinator. That wedding was quite expensive and, in hindsight, our heads were way above the clouds.
I wasn’t ready yet.
I had yet to travel the world. I had yet to taste bizaare food. I had yet to get lost in old castles and find myself in the sunrise standing from a cold mountaintop.
I wasn’t ready yet.
I wasn’t ready to be a husband. I wasn’t ready to be a dad. I wasn’t ready for a bigger family. And, after all that time I thought I was, apparently I wasn’t ready for you.
I wasn’t ready yet.
And then the double doors opened. You stepped out of that white Volkswagen. And I saw your teary smile beneath the translucent veil. And I realized;
You were not ready too.
But there you were, walking towards me. Slowly taking every step. Taking a chance. Taking my breath away.
And since then I knew I was ready for anything. Because I had you.

My wife’s the reason anything gets done.

She nudges me towards promise by degrees.

She is a perfect symphony of one.

Our son is her most beautiful reprise.

We chase the melodies that seem to find us

Until they’re finished songs and start to play.

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day

This show is proof that history remembers

We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger

We rise and fall and light from dying embers,

Remembrances that hope and love last longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.

I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story.

Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.”
-Lin-Manuel Miranda